Saturday, November 19, 2011

Celebrating Mysteries: Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Military Family Appreciation Month continues here on Kittling: Books with this week's feature on four crime fiction authors whose main characters all have something in common: they served in the Air Force.

That's one branch of the military that isn't represented by one of my family members. At least, not one that I can remember. The majority of the veterans in my family have been farmers. Maybe that's got something to do with it.

My grandfather, who served in the Navy in the South Pacific during World War II, once swam in the ocean above the Marianas Trench-- which is over six miles below. He could swim in a watery abyss, yet the man was petrified of flying. I asked Grampa about it once. He said, "If something goes wrong with the damned ship, I can swim. If something goes wrong with an airplane, I sure as hell can't fly out of trouble!"

Fortunately there are many members of the Armed Forces who don't feel the same way. Here's to some characters who love flying off into the wild blue yonder; veterans of the Air Force, one and all.

Chester Campbell and his wife, Grand Canyon
Chester D. Campbell is quite the character himself. He was an Aviation Cadet at Randolph Field outside of San Antonio, Texas, when World War II ended. Fortunately by that time they didn't need pilots, navigators or bombardiers anymore. He's been involved with writing in one way or another ever since.

He's just finished his fifth Greg McKenzie mystery, A Sporting Murder. Greg McKenzie is a retired Air Force criminal investigator in Nashville, Tennessee, who often finds himself involved in skullduggery right along with his wife Jill. The first three books in the series are: Secret of the Scroll (2002), Designed to Kill (2004), and Deadly Illusions (2005).

Here's a brief synopsis of Secret of the Scroll:

Retired Air Force OSI agent Greg McKenzie thinks his troubles with the Metro Nashville Police are a problem. Then he brings a souvenir Dead Sea Scroll home from the Holy Land and things go from bad to worse. A Palestinian terrorist group invades his home, fails to find the scroll and takes his wife, Jill, hostage. Greg finds himself with an ancient Hebrew scroll worth millions, wanted by both the Palestinians and a radical, far-right Israeli organization. When he tries to exchange it for Jill's freedom, everything goes wrong. Then the police target him as a suspect in his wife's disappearance. He sets out alone on a perilous chase to save her life.

Margit Liesche
Margit Liesche is the daughter of Hungarian refugees who came to the United States in 1947. Having grown up listening to her parents' tales of adventure and escape, Margit found herself using that background when she began to plot out her first novel.

Margit has begun writing a series of books featuring Pucci Lewis, a U.S. Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) and undercover agent during World War II. I put this series on my wishlist the first time I heard of it!

There are currently two books: Lipstick and Lies (2007) and Hollywood Buzz (2009).

Here's some of what Publishers Weekly had to say about Lipstick and Lies:

This promising debut WWII-era spy novel introduces Pucci Lewis, a charming, savvy Women Airforce Service pilot who helps the FBI infiltrate a German spy ring in Detroit. To get to the bottom of things, Lewis must go undercover, first as a prisoner and then as a journalist. Some of the plot devices are predictable, and easily decoded cryptic messages also figure a little too prominently. Still, Liesche teases out interesting parallels between the 1940s and the present day....

Doc Macomber
Doc Macomber formerly served with an Air Force Special Tactics Unit and now lives aboard a yacht in the Columbia River. He belongs to many leading writing organizations.

His mystery series features Jack Vu, a Vietnamese-American investigator for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in New Orleans, Louisiana, and elsewhere.

There are currently four books in the series with the first three being The Killer Coin (2003), Wolf's Remedy (2007) and Snip (2008).

Here is a brief synopsis of The Killer Coin:

Embedded in the slender neck of the burned corpse, a gold coin beckons. Its surprising thumbprint peels back the veneer on a morass of intrigue that threatens to destroy military investigator Jack Vu's sense of order and his career. As his hunt for the murderer unravels, Vu ricochets from the Big Easy to the unlucky waters of the Pacific Northwest. Along the road, he discovers unlikely allies and unexpected enemies. Reinforcements appear in the form of cantankerous swamp rats, bush pilots, and more than a few shots of bourbon. Love, betrayal, honor, and a final sense of justice play out as this case crashes on the rocks. Buckle your seat belts. This is one wild ride.

Sara Rosett
Sara Rosett makes art imitate life. Born and raised in Amarillo, Texas, she attended college on scholarships and completed her English degree at Texas Tech, graduating summa cum laude.

Her marriage to an Air Force pilot has meant having a life on the go. After surviving ten moves as a military spouse, Sara decided to put all those experiences to good use as background for a mystery series.

Her "Mom Zone" series features Ellie Avery, an Air Force wife and professional organizer. There are six books so far. The first three are: Moving Is Murder (2006), Staying Home Is a Killer (2007), and Getting Away Is Deadly (2008). This is another series on my wishlist!

Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say about Moving Is Murder:

Packed with helpful moving tips, Rosett's cute cozy debut introduces perky Ellie Avery, who prides herself on knowing her way around crying babies, poopy diapers and air force bases. Ellie, pilot hubby Mitch and baby daughter Livvy have hardly settled into their Vernon, Washington, off-base digs when Ellie discovers the body of another 52nd Air Refueling Squadron wife, Cass Vincent, by Cass's SUV alongside the road after a get-acquainted barbecue. Cass is the apparent victim of a nasty allergic reaction to numerous wasp stings, but Ellie later finds evidence that the flirty environmentalist may have been murdered. Though extraneous details sometimes slow the plot to a crawl, the appealing heroine and the intriguing insider peek into air force life (the author is married to an air force pilot) more than compensate.

I hope I've interested you in a new series or two. I'd certainly be interested in your opinions of any of the series I've featured. Have you read any of them? Let me know!

And don't forget to stop by next weekend when my salute to veterans will conclude with a look at series featuring characters who've served in the Army!


  1. Embedded in the slender neck of the burned corpse, a gold coin beckons.

    Oh, and that cover with the old stamps is not half bad either.

  2. Dorte-- Two of the same things that stood out to me....


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